England park ambitious plans on child health


Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park development Image: Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park

Even as the pandemic brings to the fore concerns on health and the United Kingdom continues to be bludgeoned by the new COVID-19 variant, England’s (UK) unique Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will live up to its reputation as a major health research and innovation hub by setting up a national Center for Child Health Technology (CCHT) and a groundbreaking diagnostic imaging research hub.

Apart from this, the Park created as a legacy to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to help improve public health, recently announced an ambitious sports project that will include a 3,000 seat basketball indoor arena, 3,900 capacity community stadium, 1.3 million sq ft of office and retail space, laboratories, and two more research centers, all to be built within a budget of £200m.

The 35-acre park in Attercliffe is a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield City Council.

The announcement of the plans were made recently at a virtual conference attended by over 150 national and regional heads representing health and wellbeing, politics, property and investment, business and sports.

The regeneration is hoped to give a shot in the arm to the post- pandemic, post-Brexit economy of Sheffield City Region. It will help in generating over 5,600 jobs bringing in generous investment and returns of over £2bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) benefits.

The former Sports Minister and Project Lead for the Park, Richard Caborn, stated, “Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park continues to deliver a comprehensive approach to providing the solutions to the major healthcare and economic challenges of our times. It is a catalyst for investment and regeneration and attracting the very best translational research and development technologies and skills to the Sheffield City Region which will have a huge impact nationally and internationally.”

The Center for Child Health Technology aims to prioritize child health including childhood obesity, child and adolescent mental health, long-term effects and prevention, through innovative research and technology.

Paul Dimitri, Professor of Child Health and Director of Research and Innovation at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, remarked, “Investing in the health and healthcare of children and young people makes sense – our future in fact depends on it.”

Added Dimitri, “The CCHT will create over 100 high-value jobs, and its co-location with the Oasis School and University Technical College will provide research and employment opportunities in the future. Overall, we predict the CCHT alone will generate £30m in research funding, attract £50m in private sector investment and will deliver over £200m in savings to the NHS in the next 10 years.”

The Sheffield Hallam University had last year set up a £14 million Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), a research and development center for physical activity and health.

Despite Covid-19, the AWRC has welcomed 24 start-up businesses from across the world to its £900,000 Wellbeing Accelerator program and recently announced expansion of its long-COVID recovery project and plans for new research into the role of exercise in cancer care.

Prof Rob Copeland, AWRC Director, opined, “The importance of the nation’s health and wellbeing and its links to economic prosperity has never been more obvious. With the assets and partners located on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, we are well-positioned to lead the research and innovation agenda to improve the health and wellbeing of our nation.”

Park features

  • The first £100m development phase of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will lay a new 3,000-seat Community Arena that will be home to the diagnostic imaging lab and research center for Canon Medical Systems Europe;
  • The Community Arena will provide basketball facilities and become the new home of Sheffield Sharks Basketball Team; and
  • Developer Scarborough Group International (SGI) is slated to deliver a 3,900-capacity Legacy Community Stadium by February 2022. It will become the home of Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Football Club and provide 23,000 sq ft of business and conference space.

Kevin McCabe, Chairman, Scarborough Group International, a global properties developer firm headquartered at Scotland, UK, said of the Community Stadium, “This idea of green space appears to be crucial to Scarborough’s vision for the Olympic Legacy Park with some of its first phase of development set to be around what it calls the ‘Oval’ which will include a cricket pitch in the center.

McCabe adds this will be its USP, “The Park will have a lot of green space and I’m not sure Sheffield has a major green space mixed use business park – if it does I’ve not seen it.”

McCabe has also revealed a five-year masterplan for the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park which will see a further 850,000 sq ft of real estate development which has been calculated to attract investment of around £250m.

The park already houses the coeducational facility, Oasis Academy Don Valley, the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine and the Sheffield Arena, home of the Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey team.

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